The Lost Boys

If a political movement could be sued for social malpractice, black Americans ought to be rushing to their nearest courtroom to indict liberals for condemning scores of young black males to lives of desperation and hopelessness. The symbiosis between the Democrats, local school boards, and the teacher's unions has spawned an education bureaucracy that robs these young men of their future. While their actions are criminal, the tragedy is the apparent willingness of black people to enable this malpractice with their support or silence.

The plight of young black men has been a staple in the news but the statements bear repeating. In school districts across the nation, standardized test scores and high school grade point averages are consistently lower among black males compared to any other demographic group, even black females. Only 47% of black males are graduating from high school nationwide compared to 75% for white males; in the state of Michigan, the black male graduation rate is an abysmal 33%. The failure of more than half of young black males to earn a high school diploma has predictable and tragic consequences. These young men are more likely to be jobless, poor, engaged in criminal activity or incarcerated than their peers with diplomas.

The reasons behind these disparities could be argued endlessly, While we sit and squabble over why this is happening, another generation of young black men is consigned to a life of endless struggle. What I do know is there are educational alternatives demonstrating incredible success with young black men, and there are also enemies of these alternatives who are blindly beholden to a failed education bureaucracy at our children's expense.

Our inner cities provide the most egregious examples of how we're failing our young black men. The high school graduation rates in Detroit, Indianapolis and Cleveland are 24.9 percent, 30.5 percent, and 34.1 percent respectively. Yet in Milwaukee, which has had a school choice program since the 1990's, 85% of students enrolled in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program earned diplomas in 2007 compared to 58% in the Milwaukee public schools.

There are other examples illustrating the success of educational alternatives in rescuing our young people. The Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP), which runs 66 schools in 19 states and the District of Columbia, has had incredible success at raising reading and math scores among its overwhelmingly low-income and minority students, with math scores rising from the 40th to the 82nd percentile and reading scores from the 32nd to the 60th percentile. 80 percent of KIPP program participants go on to college. KIPP Houston High School graduated its first senior class this spring and 96 percent of them are attending four-year colleges and universities this fall. In Maryland, Chesapeake Science Point Public Charter School outperformed the Anne Arundel County Public Schools by up to 41% for black students on the Maryland State Assessment tests, and their 7th and 8th graders scored 100% proficiency in beginning high school algebra compared to 63.5% in the state overall.

The response of the school boards and teacher's unions to these impressive numbers, however, has not been laudatory but harsh. Charter schools are supposed to have autonomy from the public school system so they can develop innovative programs to teach our children. Local school boards, however, have used laws and ordinances to keep charter schools from obtaining the facilities they need to operate or using school buses for transportation. Since charter school funding in many states is funneled through the local school board, they've used that power to withhold funds and force some charter schools to close. If the bureaucracy doesn't work, lawsuits, rumor, intimidation and false accusations have been employed to discredit charter schools and their employees.

Why the hostility from institutions supposedly dedicated to excellence in education? Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy states the people devoted to the bureaucracy eventually take control from those devoted to the goals the bureaucracy is supposed to accomplish. The school boards and teacher's unions' primary goal is self-preservation, not education. Moreover, their embrace of liberal causes such as same-sex marriage indicates they have an agenda that goes beyond teaching our children to read, write and calculate. Charter schools and other school choice options don't give them the opportunity to indoctrinate our children and teach them values without parental knowledge or consent.

Frustratingly, black parents continue to elect the same people who are determined to take away options to better educate their children. Black parents are overwhelmingly in favor of school choice but don't realize the Democrats and their sycophants in the education bureaucracy hate choice and are the very reason their children are doomed to failing schools and less abundant lives.